rock The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
134.1k votes 9.6k voters 136.6k views 297 items Embed

List Rules Only individual songwriters of *rock songs* who are still alive. No duos. No bands.

Who is the best songwriter alive today? The musician responsible for the lyrics and music that's the most memorable, significant and lasting in all of rock history, who is still with us today. We're talking, over the course of an entire career, the person who has written the most great songs--the best songwriters of the 21st century. A few things to keep in mind: (1) Songwriting teams are acceptable if they truly worked together (for example, Elton John writing music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics). When possible, as in the case of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, separate them and focus on individual songwriting. (2) LIVING songwriters. Living. (3) I think the ratio of "great songs" to "not good songs" is important to consider. If someone has 2 classic albums of great songs and then 5 albums worth of garbage, that impacts the overall view of the career, no matter how good the original work was. Something to keep in mind.

Add your own selections below and vote up the people you feel are worthy of the title of Greatest Living Rock Songwriter. PLUS, if you have Spotify, you can listen to full songs from each of the listed songwriters on our Ranker playlist!
list ordered by

1
2,570 2,340
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul McCartney Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,230 2,352
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
2,103 1,424
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Paul Simon Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,203 1,993
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,081 1,769
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Pete Townshend Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

6
1,129 2,004
Ranker Video
Bruce Springsteen Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

7
849 1,580
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
jrdale1 added Billy Joel Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

8
963 1,496
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Brian Wilson Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

9
759 1,477
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
598 931
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Eric Clapton Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

11
781 1,109
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Roger Waters Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

12
431 477
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Robert Plant Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

13
689 1,266
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added John Fogerty Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

14
829 1,455
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

Famous Schizophrenics

15
792 1,510
Ranker Video
Ray Davies Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
591 1,163
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Sting Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

17
572 1,176
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

18
282 386
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Burt Bacharach Pop music, Vocal music

19
489 805
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

20
387 571
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Barry Gibb Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

21
558 862
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Phil Collins Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

The Worst Rock Bands of All Time

22
368 410
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Neil Diamond Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

23
588 795
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added David Gilmour Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

24
369 356
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Stevie Nicks Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

25
376 565
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
618 926
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added Peter Gabriel New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

27
494 801
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Jeff Lynne Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

28
193 42
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Elton John Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

The Best Metal Albums of 2018

29
434 522
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Dolly Parton Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

30
526 713
Ranker Video
Elvis Costello New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

31
357 573
Ranker Video
David Byrne New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

32
606 737
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Mark Knopfler Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

33
239 366
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added John Mellencamp Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

34
318 455
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Tom Waits Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

35
219 278
Bono is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Bono Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

The Best Official Republican Candidates for 2016

36
148 60
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Mick Jagger Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

37
319 314
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Don Henley Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

38
317 277
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Willie Nelson Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

39
278 325
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Jackson Browne Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

40
204 307
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

41
346 467
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Cat Stevens Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

42
234 421
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Patti Smith Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

Every Song in Hair (the Musical), Ranked by Singability

43
76 70
Peter Lennodo is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Peter Lennodo

44
284 295
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Bob Segar Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
210 309
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Alice Cooper Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

46
151 107
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added Lindsey Buckingham New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
174 154
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Brian May Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

48
199 281
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rod Stewart New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

49
286 332
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

50
277 507
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Morrissey Jangle pop, Indie pop, Rockabilly